Over the past few weeks, there have been significant discussions surrounding the top post at the International Cricket Council (ICC). Shashank Manohar, who is currently the chairman of ICC, is expected to leave his role in July. Reputed names are popping up as favourites for Manohar’s succession – and one of them is the president of BCCI and former captain of the Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly.
There had only been whispers about Ganguly’s seeming candidacy for the role but Graeme Smith’s comments on Thursday seem to provide some relevance to it all. The Cricket South Africa’s Director of Cricket, in a zoom call with fellow board members, named Sourav Ganguly as one whose ‘credibility’ and ‘leadership skills’ can take the game forward.
Cricket South Africa, however, on Friday, downplayed Smith’s comments, saying “We must respect both the ICC protocol and our own protocol in deciding which candidate to back.”
The election for the role is scheduled for July. It is also possible that ICC may opt to continue with the current leadership for the time being, given the fact that the cricket world is significantly disrupted with the coronavirus pandemic at the moment.
However, assuming the elections go ahead as planned, how strong are Ganguly’s chances?
What we know so far:
As mentioned earlier, Sourav Ganguly has received backing from one of the authoritative figures in Cricket South Africa.
“Post COVID(19), to have strong leadership is going to be important. I feel that Sourav Ganguly is best positioned for that at the moment. He’s got the credibility, he’s got the leadership skills & he’s someone who can really take the game forward,” Graeme Smith had said, as quoted by Cricket South Africa’s official Twitter account.
“We know that the elections are coming up and there’s a few names in the hat, but my own opinion is that it’s time that someone who’s closer to the modern game with the leadership credentials got into a key position." (ALSO READ: CSA downplays Graeme Smith's backing of Ganguly)
“Post COVID(19), to have strong leadership is going to be important. I feel that Saurav Ganguly is best positioned for that at the moment. He’s got the credibility, he’s got the leadership skills & he’s someone who can really take the game forward." - Graeme Smith pic.twitter.com/XpXvbpuMG5— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) May 21, 2020
The former Indian captain is eligible to run for the post, as he had attended the ICC Board Meeting in March (which is a requirement for the role). He is also expected to attend another board meeting on May 28, which may clear the air on the future of the 2020 Men’s T20 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Australia.
While Shashank Manohar can run for another term, ESPNCricinfo suggests that he is unlikely to do so. England and Wales Cricket Board’s chairman Colin Graves was among the frontrunner for the role in the initial stages but the emergence of Ganguly’s name for candidacy does change a few things.
For one, Sourav Ganguly’s tenure as the president of BCCI might end in July later this year, when his three-year cooling-off period begins. While the BCCI did approach the Supreme Court with a request to make amendments in the board’s constitution for the same, the Indian court is yet to conduct a formal hearing on the matter.
Secondly, Ganguly also seems to have the support of BCCI. While a report from ESPNCricinfo suggests that Ganguly will be the ‘first choice’ among BCCI members to file for candidacy for ICC President, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal also insisted that the former Indian skipper has the ‘credentials’ for the role. (ALSO READ: Made no commitment for SA tour yet: Arun Dhumal)
“As far as the BCCI is concerned we would certainly like an Indian to lead the global body and our president (Ganguly) has credentials obviously. But again we haven't yet discussed it,” Dhumal said in an interview with PTI on Friday.
Moreover, the same report from ESPNCricinfo also says that a person privy to developments insisted the cricket boards around the world (with the exception of PCB, ECB and ‘possibly’ Cricket Ireland) are likely to support a BCCI candidate for the top role at ICC.
David Gower, the former England captain, also backed Ganguly to come good in the role as ICC chairman.
“One thing I have learnt over the years is that if you are going to run BCCI, you need to be many, many things. Having a reputation like he (Ganguly) has is a very good start, but you need to be a very deft politician,” Gower said ahead of Q20, a chat show presented by ‘GloFans’.
"You need to have control of a million different things. And of course, you need to be responsible for a game that is followed by, I mean, should we say a billion people here in India. (ALSO READ: Optimistic for IPL post-monsoon with int'l cricketers: BCCI CEO)
"We all know about the immense following for cricket in India. So it is indeed a wonderful thing to behold. Sourav has the toughest task imaginable in charge of BCCI, but so far I would say the signs are very good.
"He is a very, very good man and has those political skills. He has the right attitude and can keep things together and will do good job. And if you do a good job as BCCI chief in the future, who knows?”